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Archives: March 2005

Kinsolving Returns

LesKinsolving.jpgAmid all of the coverage of colorful figures in the White House press briefing room (i.e. bloggers), many of the news articles reference Les Kinsolving, “the nation’s unlabeled talk show host.” He claims to be the only talk show host accreditated to cover the White House, and he’s been a royal pain in the ass to every press secretary since the last year of Richard Nixon’s term.

Jody Powell, President Carter’s press secretary, famously said “In South Georgia, you’ve got gnats. In the White House, we’ve got Les Kinsolving.”

Well good news for everyone on the White House beat: After recovering from heart surgery, Kinsolving is returning to work today and his regular commentaries. It’s good to know that two months after Jeff Gannon abruptly stopped showing up for work, that there’ll be some excitement for Scott McClellan in the briefing room again.

Gossip Constipation

Gossip makes it big in the New York Times today, with some classic quotes from the Post’s Ben Bradlee. The article, focusing on NY Post’s Liz Smith, examines the challenges facing the tabloid industry as it seeks to compete with the unsubstantiated rumors of “blogs” on the “InterWeb.”

In it outgoing Reliable Source Richard Leiby expresses some frustration with writing a gossip column at the otherwise hard-nosed for news Post, and Bradlee weighs in with some historical perspective:

“We’ve had more bloody trouble with gossip columns,” Mr. Bradlee said. “We deep down in our little constipated souls don’t believe in gossip columns.”

He said that articles in the 1960′s and 1970′s by Maxine Cheshire, The Post’s long-time society writer, required his endless attention as an editor. “I spent more time with Max than I spent with Woodward and Bernstein,” he said.

Speaking of gossip, there are all sorts of rumors swirling about the future of the Reliable Source column — ranging from having Anne Schroeder take the helm full-time to her co-writing with Washington Whispers writer Paul Bedard to having Lois Romano or Ann Gerhart step back up to the plate. DCRTV has been promoting a new theory almost every day. The latest? Lloyd Grove will come back from the Big Apple.

We hear everything is up in the air and that all of the rumors are just that (although the Lloyd Grove report is “truly absurd” sezs one in-the-know) — however there’s a widespread consensus building that Schroeder has very nice shoulders.

More on a West Wing Press Room Re-Do

In a completely disinterested story, Jim VandeHei reports today on how his offices might soon get an upgrade. Coming a good 13 days after the Washington Times reported the same thing, and three weeks after Fishbowl first “broke” the story of the sub-par working conditions, VandeHei updates with some history of the briefing room struggle and President Bush’s comments about room, and explains the plan would move the press corps out of the West Wing for a few weeks (probably August) to redo the room.

“My only concern is they use this as a Trojan horse to kick us out or shrink our space,” Ron Hutcheson told the Post. “I am in the trust-but-verify mode. There is nothing in there that sets off the alarms that there is a nefarious plan here.”

Even the President has noticed has bad the working conditions are, as VandeHei notes, quoting POTUS at a recent press conference: “Listen, whoever thought about modernizing this room deserves a lot of credit. Like, there’s very little oxygen in here anymore.” And you know things have to got to be really bad for President Bush to start doing favors for the press corps….

Celebrity Is The New Sex

If you’ve been reading this blog over the past six weeks, there’s not any surprises in this morning’s Post round-up of the looming magazine war — all three (D.C. Style, Capitol File, and D.C.) target high-income folks who like living fancy and seeing themselves and their friends in magazines.

One random talking head explained the appeal: “Celebrity is the sex of the 21st century as we become a more voyeuristic society. And where is there a better place to be a voyeur than in D.C.?”

We couldn’t agree more.

Sportswriters as Imaginary Friends

We were one of the thousands of Washingtonians this weekend who tried (unsuccessfully in our case) to purchase tickets to Opening Day of the Washington Nationals on April 14th, and so it was with great interest that we read Harry Jaffe’s write-up of the face of the Post’s Nationals coverage.

Barry Svrluga, formerly tasked with covering college basketball, is forging a new path as the paper’s hometown baseball writer–a task that could take him away from his wife of last June, Post Metro Writer Susan Kinzie, for 170 nights this year. She sums it up as such: “It’s sort of like when you were a kid and had an imaginary friend. No one ever sees him, but you talk to him all the time.”

So far, Svrluga has good things to say about the Nationals: “Baseball players have a reputation for being real pricks. You can’t overstate the sense of a fresh start the National players have. It plays a part in how approachable and accommodating the players have been…. I haven’t found a jerk in the locker room yet.”

We’ll look forward to his report on Opening Day, since all the tickets all sold out and (so far) no one will be able to watch it on TV.

Is a Zoo NYT-worthy?

The new issue of Washingtonian wonders about why one of the heirs to the Sulzberger family, Lynn Dolnick, was recently named to the board of the New York Times, not a mention was made of her 15-year career at the National Zoo.

She began in 1987 as special assistant to then-director Michael Robinson, then became the head of exhibits and ultimately associate director for exhibits and outreach. Occasionally she even served as the zoo’s spokesperson (like for the birth of a baby panda), and her name was even bandied about as a possible replacement for Robinson when he left.

Despite her proud and very happy work there, Dolnick’s career mysteriously never made it into the NYT story naming her to the Gray Lady’s corporate board.

“Sources say some family members were embarrassed at what they saw as her low-level resume, especially as she holds a PhD from Brandeis,” the Washingtonian reports.

Guess not all the news is fit to print, huh?

Spring Softball Madness

mmsl.gifWhile the Nationals are getting ready over at “______” Field at RFK Stadium, the Metropolitan Media Softball League (MMSL) is also gearing up for another season.

WSJ’s John Harwood reports today that just a week after the league‘s first meeting for the 2005 season there’s already some controversy brewing as to the line-up. Conservative news website has applied to field a team, but some league players are complaining that the site, an offshoot of the Heritage Foundation, is an advocacy site not a news site. A particularly witty spokesperson told Harwood, “we’ll hardly be the only team in the league” delivering “news with a slant.”

No word on whether Talon News will field a team. We hear Jeff Gannon is particularly talented at lobbing softballs.

Nominees for D.C.’s Best Hair

joiechen.jpgEvery Friday Hotline features an interview with a D.C. journalist, and this week’s featurette is a few words with CBS Capitol Hill reporter Joie Chen. In it, she explains that she loves South Carolina (for vacation), The Cat in the Hat (to read to her 5-year-old), and that she’d love to interview her grandparents.

She also shares her most embarrassing career moment: “My co-anchor at the time [CNN's] Miles O’Brien and I neglected to notice we were back on camera — until he called himself a ‘big schmoe.’ Everyone in the control room was laughing so hard they couldn’t tell us we were on TV. Then we started laughing so hard that we couldn’t toss to the commercial break. At least I didn’t call HIM a ‘schmoe.’ Whatever that is.”

The Hotline feature traditionally ends with this week’s interviewee being asked to ask next week’s interviewee a question. Chen asked “Who has the best hair in D.C.”?

We’re going to open that one up. Email us with your nominees for best media-type hair in the city.

Examining Anschutz’s Plans

Slate’s Jack Shafer has a very intriguing piece today examining the possibly long-term newspaper/media/world domination strategy of billionaire Examiner backer Philip Anschutz. He proffers a few ideas as to how the Examiner family of papers might make a run against established papers. The article’s sort of complicated to summarize, so just read the whole thing.

The Examiner has a tough road to climb. As Shafer notes, the Post isn’t exactly falling down on the job just yet, and the Examiner (beyond its excellent city columns led by Harry Jaffe) isn’t exactly demonstrating a bastion of news reporting.

One thing about Shafer’s theory that has always puzzled us? If the Examiner is thinking long-term about the web, why is the Examiner’s web page so poorly designed and why does it not seem to post everything in the paper?

Probing the Marriage Agenda

Howard Kurtz makes a rare trip to the A section today to report that “marriage expert” Maggie Gallagher and her contract with HHS will be investigated by the fun folks at the Government Accountability Office. Senate Democrats requested the probe after word came out that Gallagher had received $21,500 for her help in promoting President Bush’s marriage agenda.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (he of the newly rechristened Tomato State) explained that an investigation was necessary because “the Bush propaganda mill has violated the trust of the American people.”